topic-list-previews: User selectable TLP or a low data mode

topic-list-previews: User selectable TLP or a low data mode


User selectable TLP or a low data mode


Have a user selectable option to turn TLP off, or have a low data mode that loads low rez thumbnails

Use Case

I have some users with slow internet in rural areas and it takes forever for the site to load because of the large thumbnails with tiles. I see a few possible options to resolve this and am curious if any of them are achievable?

  • Give the user the ability to turn off TLP altogether. I’m assuming TLP is too deeply ingrained in categories to make this happen.
  • Give the user the ability to turn off Tiles and revert back to the standard TLP with small thumbnails. Again, probably not possible but I’m throwing out ideas.
  • Give the user a low-data mode option that doesn’t load full resolution thumbnails. I assume this would require generating a whole different set of thumbnails for all images, but if they are low rez would it not take up much space/processing, so maybe a possibility?

Any other ideas? I know I can reduce the thumbnail size, but this would negatively impact the vast majority of users that do have good internet.



Good idea David. I think switching it off as a user pref is the most pragmatic to be delivered. Eg on mobile perhaps give users the option to switch off thumbnails and tiles. Could give desktop option too.


Great! Some sort of low-res thumbnail would certainly be the preference, but I will take turning them off if the other options are incredibly complicated.

I hear you but that complicates the thumbnail logic which is already pretty complex and so will be an increasing burden to maintain. Not dismissing that entirely though. Just wary. Let me think about it. A low res switch would also be cool.

Another thought is to reduce the number of columns. You would cut visible images to a third?

Another thought: are these people on hi-res displays? Remember there is already a low (quarter?) res thumbnail that is rendered if you are not on a “retina” screen. That could be leveraged already “always use low res thumbnail”


I’m often on terrible internet so I can relate to their problems since I travel full-time in an RV. My experience is that the number of columns wouldn’t help too much because each individual image is still painful to load just to get a preview. Users want to peruse through a bunch of thumbnail options quickly to decide which one to take a closer look at, then they are willing to wait to load the full version when selecting that topic. This is why turning them off altogether is also not the best option now that I think about it a little more, it may actually be worse because they then have to go into each topic and load the full version to see what the image even is.

I’m not sure if they are on high res displays, I would assume on their phone they would be, but hard to say on desktop. Does the 1/4 res thumbnail only generate if they are on a high res display? A 1/4 of the size could certainly make a big difference.

Correct. But we could add a user pref to force it.

The one thing you need to be wary of is user having too much discretion on what they see. Then you lose some control (can always force from Rails console though for sure)

Sounds like an interesting concept to try out.

Certainly. Ideally, it would detect a slow connection and adjust in real-time, but I’m sure that is way beyond the scope of this plugin haha.

I’ve received this complaint about slow connections enough that I would still like to have the option for users, the worst thing that would happen is a user turns it on and gets fuzzy thumbnails.

Yep I think forcing low res thumbnail on user pref is a pragmatic first change.

However can you find out if they have an iPhone or Mac?

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So far we have:

  • Windows w/2560x1440 monitor
  • iPhone 7
  • iMac
  • MacBook Pro

So presumably this solution would help everyone except the user with windows because of their monitor?

I believe it’s anyone who’s browser returns true for:

window.devicePixelRatio >= 2

… currently gets the hires image

So the interesting candidate to test here would be the Windows 1440p browser. I’m fairly sure the rest would come back true

If that user is techie enough they could enter this into their browser console. I don’t have a 1440p screen sadly. I will add though that if that monitor is as big as 27” I suspect that’s a standard low DPI screen so they should already be looking at the lower res thumbnails ie proposed change won’t help them. That’s at least 3 out of 4 though.

I’m waiting to hear back from them. In the meantime, I have a somewhat related question; I just noticed the featured image thumbnails are 500x500 despite my setting to show them at 98x98. This is a major difference and I could really see some speed improvements by reducing the size of 10 images that load every time.

They use the same thumbnails. Again might be potential to force the lower res versions but it won’t be as dramatic a change as 500 -> 98. That latter value is a styling value?

It seems as though the featured topics are using the max image height value which I have set to 500, I have the topic list thumbnail width set to 345 and topic list thumbnail height set to 0. Couldn’t it at least be using the thumbnail you generate for TLP instead or am I missing something?

He finally got back to me and said it returned a value of 1.2, which leads me to believe that he has used zooming and has a lower resolution screen. It sounds like this is a very unreliable way of detecting based upon this:

But that’s another discussion.

Obviously, this solution won’t work for everyone, but it will work for a majority of people and could help in the short term. It seems like the easiest way to implement without creating new thumbnails.

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4 posts were split to a new topic: Add user preference to force low-res thumbnails